Adventures in Machine Learning

Introducing INSTEAD OF Triggers: Streamlining Database Operations in SQL Server

INSTEAD OF Triggers in SQL Server: An Overview

For database developers, triggers are a powerful tool to manage data integrity and automate processes. They enable users to perform custom actions when specific database operations, such as inserts, updates, or deletes occur.

SQL Server offers several types of triggers, including the INSTEAD OF trigger. In this article, we’ll delve into the INSTEAD OF trigger, what it is, how it works, and how to use it effectively.

What is an INSTEAD OF Trigger? An INSTEAD OF trigger is a special type of database trigger that provides developers with a way to intercept and override Transact-SQL (T-SQL) statements that modify a table or a view.

Unlike other types of triggers, INSTEAD OF triggers do not execute after the database operation completes. Rather, they execute instead of the normal DML (Data Manipulation Language) statements such as INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE.

Essentially, instead of allowing the original DML statements to modify the database, the INSTEAD OF trigger intercepts the statements and performs other actions, such as rerouting the operation to another table or view or implementing validation rules, before it is executed.

SQL Server INSTEAD OF Trigger Syntax

The syntax for creating an INSTEAD OF trigger in SQL Server requires the use of the CREATE TRIGGER statement, which must specify the type of trigger (INSTEAD OF INSERT, INSTEAD OF DELETE, or INSTEAD OF UPDATE). You will also need to specify the event that will activate the trigger, such as an insert or an update.

For tables, the event can be specified as AFTER or INSTEAD OF with the appropriate trigger type. For views, however, INSTEAD OF is the only option.

The basic syntax of the statement is as follows:



ON [Table_Name or View_Name]




— T-SQL statements



The T-SQL statements within the BEGIN and END blocks are the actions that the trigger will perform, and they can be almost any valid SQL statement.

SQL Server INSTEAD OF Trigger Example

To illustrate how to use INSTEAD OF triggers in SQL Server, suppose you have a database that stores data on various brands and models of consumer electronics. You want to create a view for a new brand and its products, but you want to set up an approval process before the data is committed to the database.

To start, you would create a new table to store pending approvals, like this:


CREATE TABLE brand_approvals


brand_name varchar(50),

product_name varchar(50),

price decimal(6,2),

approved bit default 0



Next, create a view that will enable users to insert new brands and products and route them to the appropriate table, like so:


CREATE VIEW vw_brands


SELECT brand_name, product_name, price

FROM brand_products WHERE brand_name = ‘new_brand’;


In this example, when a user inserts data into the `vw_brands` view, the INSTEAD OF trigger intercepts the statement and routes the data to the `brand_approvals` table. To create the trigger, you would write:


CREATE TRIGGER trg_Insert_Brand

ON vw_brands





INSERT INTO brand_approvals (brand_name, product_name, price)

SELECT i.brand_name, i.product_name, i.price

FROM inserted i



SELECT 1 FROM brand_approvals

WHERE brand_name = i.brand_name

AND product_name = i.product_name




This trigger intercepts an insert operation on `vw_brands` and performs an insert operation to the `brand_approvals` table for new brands that have not been approved yet. The `SET NOCOUNT ON` statement enables the trigger to not send the number of rows affected by the trigger operation back to the client.

Finally, to see if the data has been inserted into the `brand_approvals` table, you can query it as follows:


SELECT * FROM brand_approvals;


This will show you all of the records that have been submitted for approval.


Using the INSTEAD OF trigger is a powerful way to automate data integrity and routing processes in SQL Server. By intercepting and overriding T-SQL statements, you can create custom logic and workflows that streamline database operations and enhance the accuracy of your data.

With the right syntax and the appropriate T-SQL statements, you can create triggers that cover a wide range of scenarios, from basic validation checks to complex data routing and approval workflows. In summary, INSTEAD OF triggers are special database triggers that can intercept and override T-SQL statements that modify a table or a view.

They enable developers to customize database workflows, routing, and data integrity. Using the syntax and T-SQL statements, users can create triggers that cover a wide range of scenarios, from validation checks to complex data routing processes.

By automating these processes, developers can enhance data accuracy and streamline database operations. Overall, INSTEAD OF triggers are a vital tool for anyone working in SQL Server, and knowing how to use them can greatly improve database management.

Popular Posts